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Farnsworth’s Bedroom

This place is famous. Architect Mies van der Rohe designed it for his client, Dr. Edith Farnsworth, as her weekend retreat; it was designed and constructed between 1954 and 1951.

Or, evidently, he designed it without really listening to what she wanted, and the two of them were bitter enemies before it was all over. Writing about the conflict in 1998, author Alice T. Friedman asserted that “[t]here is no evidence to suggest that [Farnsworth] sought to have her behavior challenged by the ‘inner logic’ of Mies’s unyielding architectural vision; on the contrary, she seems to have had a clear idea about how she wanted to live and she expected the architect to respect her views… [S]he soon discovered that what Mies wanted, and what he had thought he had found in her, was a patron who would put her budget and her needs aside in favor of his own goals and dreams as an architect.”

There were (and still are) problems with it. It’s all glass, so it’s hot in the summer, cold in the winter; the original house didn’t even have an air conditioner and didn’t have adequate natural ventilation. At night, the lights from inside the house drew in insects. It floods, a lot. (In fact, when we were there, it had just reopened after high water from the nearby river made it inaccessible.) In 1996 water rose to five feet inside, high enough to float a Warhol portrait of Liz Taylor off the wall down the river; it was seen again.

And the cost? She’d intended to spend between $8,000 and $10,000 but the final cost was somewhere around $74,000. “My house is a monument to Mies van der Rohe, and I’m paying for it," Dr. Farnsworth reportedly told her nephew.

Farnsworth House
Plano, Illinois
photographed 6.24.2018

Farnsworth’s Porch

When I was in architecture school, we had to draft perspectives by hand using very long straightedges and vanishing points that were (usually) so far away they were literally off the paper. And if you didn’t get it set up the right way from the beginning, you’d end up with a goofy perspective that flattened things to the point that some of the architectural elements became ridiculous.

I was terrible at setting up perspectives back then; it’s good to know that I can still fuck it up, even with a camera! Yay, me!!

Farnsworth House
Plano, Illinois
photographed 6.24.2018

Typical Situation

Sometimes you just have to do it – the cliched shot is right there, waiting on you to make it. This was, of course, one of those times.

(PS – I used DxO’s Perspective Efex plug-in to get those verticals all lined up – it worked great and you should try it, if you’ve got verticals that aren’t, you know, vertical.)

from the Wells Street Bridge
Chicago, Illinois
photographed 6.28.2018

Theoretical House

In retrospect, maybe deciding that THIS year, 2020, the biggest shitshow of years – was when we ought to finally build that weekend place we’ve been talking about for 15 years, was a decision doomed to failure. Short-term failure (I hope), but failure nonetheless.

Our contractor was supposed to be done the first weekend of April. We fired him at the end of June. And here we are, the beginning of August, while we wait on the next contractor to get us prices to finish up. He says he’ll have the numbers “in a few days,” but he’s been saying that for longer than I care to contemplate.

So, anyway, this is what it looks like now. Things should get moving again. In a few days.

Yellowhouse Canyon, Texas
photographed 7.24.2020

Shadow Line

There is a surprising amount going on here, from the four circles to the one a/c unit to the stone trim to the boarded and bricked windows to the rhythm of the tiny arches.

But the best part was the shadows slanting away from their source.

Brownwood, Texas
photographed 5.23.2020

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